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Create an Action Plan for a Successful Hire

4 Nov, 2010 By: Jim Kahrs, Prosperity Plus imageSource

Create an Action Plan for a Successful Hire

You’re sitting in your office and there is a knock at the door. You can tell immediately that one of your top sales reps has something on his mind. “Do you have a minute?” You learn this is a resignation meeting. Does this sound familiar? Maybe instead of a sales rep it’s a technician or your office manager. Regardless of the details of the scenario, you now know that you’ll need to hire a new employee. You have to start the process of a dedicated “talent search” all over again.

Hiring new personnel can be stressful for most managers. Yet with proper planning and preparation it doesn’t have to be a difficult task. The steps described here can be made into an actionable program and used as a guideline for you and your managers to follow. The process is the same whether replacing an employee who is leaving or filling a newly created position.

What is this person going to do?
The first step in the process is to clearly lay out what this new person is going to do. In the case of a sales rep or a service technician the process is fairly easy. When hiring for administrative or management positions, the task can be much more difficult.

Before beginning the search for a new employee it is best to compile a full written job description or “hat write up.” The term hat comes from the days when different jobs on a train were distinguished by the hat worn. This write up needs to include among other things the purpose of the hat, the product (s) the hat is responsible for producing and statistical measures to determine the volume of production. For example, when considering an accounts receivable clerk, the purpose of the hat or job could be to contact all customers that have unpaid invoices and get these invoices paid as quickly as possible in an effort to improve cash flow and minimize losses. The product of the job is fully paid invoices and measurement statistics would include number of calls made, dollars collected and percentage of accounts receivable over 60 days old. Having this write up prepared in advance allows you to get the new employee on board and producing very quickly to your plan. It also helps to organize your thoughts while screening and interviewing candidates.

Finding qualified applicants
Now that you’ve determined what the new employee will do, it’s time to find qualified applicants. Start by asking your current employees for referrals. If you don’t have a formal program to pay employees for referrals you should consider putting one in place. Offer a “Referral Reward” where employees earn a bonus if they refer someone who is hired and stays on board for at least 90 days. Other good sources include newspaper ads, Internet ads and recruiters. Ads should be planned out carefully in advance. Getting a high volume of good quality applicants is very much dependent on the wording of your ad. Make sure the ad is upbeat and professional.

The screening and interview process
The next step is to plan out the screening and interview process. If you’ve ever gone to Disney World and are in the line for Space Mountain where there are so many curves that you don’t know what is coming, you get the idea that if you knew in advance what to expect, it would be less stressful by being prepared. Therefore, you realize the need to have a predetermined interview process and let the applicant know what that process is. If it’s going to take you thirty days and three interviews with each candidate to make a decision, let applicants know this in advance. I’ve seen many dealers lose good candidates because they left them in the dark.
Start with pre-screening. Have each applicant email a resumé and cover letter. For some lower level positions this may not be necessary. Once these are received sort them by potential. All responses that are categorized as strong potential are then called for a telephone interview. The purpose of this telephone interview is to see if the person meets the basic requirements and can communicate well in order to be invited to the office for a formal interview.
The purpose of this interview is to review the candidate’s past experience and qualifications and determine if he or she would be a good fit for your company and the job you’re looking to fill. Hiring someone who is clearly over-qualified or under-qualified rarely works. If this interview goes well the next step should be to administer assessment tests. We use a series of tests called the Personnel Potential Analysis™. This system includes Personality, IQ and Aptitude tests. The results give a comprehensive look into who the candidate really is and how well they can be expected to perform at the position.

If after conducting the initial interview and testing you are still interested in the candidate, they would be invited back for a final interview. This is a much more detailed interview and should last an hour or two. During this interview you would ask a lot of the same questions you asked in the initial interview and make sure that the responses have consistency. You will also ask more detailed questions about their past experience and how they can help the company if hired. You really want to dig in during this interview. You want to give them sample situations and ask what they would do and role-play common scenarios to get their reactions.

Assuming this final interview went well, and both you and the candidate are ready to start this relationship, you make a formal offer. The offer can be made verbally at the end of the final interview but I recommend that a written offer letter be sent as a follow up. The offer letter should clearly state that it is not an employment contract, and should outline the basics of the agreement. This would include the position the person is being offered, the basic duties of the position and the compensation offered. I can’t even count the number of problems I’ve seen arise from ambiguous offers that were not properly understood. Do yourself a favor and make the offer crystal clear up front.

Preparing for the next hire
Now that you’ve filled the immediate need for a position in your company, be sure to document the process you’ve developed. When the need arises to hire again, you will simply follow the same steps. Good hiring!

Jim Kahrs is the President and Founder of Prosperity Plus Management Consulting, Inc., an industry management consulting company based in New York. Visit www.prosperityplus.com or jkahrs@prosperityplus.com.

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